Are you thinking of heading to New Zealand to fish, but aren’t too sure about how to get there? Or how to get around the country once you’ve arrived? Well, sit back and I’ll take you on a journey.
Rather than being a ‘country’, New Zealand is a collection of large and small islands – two big, four smaller and many very small. All the fly-fishing action is on the two big ones – North and South Islands – but there is some excellent coastal fishing around all the others.
Although the first Polynesian settlers arrived to New Zealand – Aotearoa, or Land of the Long White Cloud – by large canoe, or waka, it’s now a much simpler process. And much easier on the arms. We like to promote Air New Zealand as the airline of choice – after all, the South Pacific is where they call home. They also have more practice than most airlines at long-haul travel and tend to fly the most direct routes. They are also the main domestic carrier within New Zealand, which can simplify travel plans if you want all your air travel on one ticket – very handy when the weather, volcanoes or earthquakes start to upset your plans.
But having said that, all the world’s major airlines will get you to New Zealand through their code-share arrangements. So if you want to use your airpoints you still can. But do bear in mind that it’s a solid 12 hour flight from the west coast of North America and two 12 hour flights from Europe. So try to get the most direct flight you can. If you’re booking online check the trip times as cheaper flights can take up to 48 hours due to long connection times in transfer cities.
However, once you’ve arrived in New Zealand things get a lot easier, and more laid back.
There’s good saltwater fishing around Northland, the Bay of Plenty, Cook Strait, the northern part of the South Island and Fiordland. Fly fishing hotspots are in the central North Island and the very northern and southern parts of the South Island. The main gateway city is Auckland and international flights from everywhere but Australia will come through that point. So if you’re planning to fish the South Island then bargain on flying further south. Flights from Australia also arrive in to Christchurch, Wellington and Queenstown.
Driving distances make it quite feasible, especially if you’re accustomed to driving on the left side of the road, to hire a car in Auckland and drive to your favoured North Island lodge. If you’re running a tight budget a campervan might be a good option as you can take your accommodation with you, but remember you will need to carry all your fishing gear with you unless you want to hire it along the way. And you’ll still need a guide if you want to catch fish. There’s a drive-on, drive-off vehicular ferry between the North and South Islands and it’s a 3 1/2 hour crossing – you’ll need to book ahead in summer.
If you’re fishing the northern end of the South Island it’s best to fly in to Nelson, while further south the key centre is Queenstown. Christchurch, New Zealand’s second largest city, will give you access to the central Southern Alps rivers and driving access to the whole South Island. There are at least six quality fishing lodges in the northern South Island and almost the same number further south. And there are another dozen in the central North Island, which is a good option for winter fly fishing where an open season remains in some of the rivers. Further south the season generally runs October to April.
It’s a simple matter to arrange transfers to all the lodges. These can range from private luxury transfers costing several hundred dollars each way to shared shuttles which can start at under $100 each way, depending on the distance. It makes little sense to hire a car for a week to get you to a lodge where you will be out with a guide each day anyway. There are also several tour companies that will provide your transport and a fishing guide, leaving you free to choose which accommodation you stay in. This can be a good cost-effective way to travel with your own guide and fish several locations. There is also some lake fishing from boats around Rotorua and Taupo.
Overnight charter boats work out of the Bay of Islands, Auckland, the Bay of Plenty, the northern South Island and Fiordland. Couple this with a few nights at a coastal lodge and you’ll get some of the best saltwater fishing available in New Zealand, and enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery you’ll see anywhere.
If you’re keen to fish New Zealand we can help you source the best options, no matter what your budget or preference.
If you want to know more about getting to New Zealand, or to book a fishing trip, email us with your queries.